The innumerable news restaurants of quality that opened, haltingly, over the past two years are now operating in top form and primed for a visit. And in the coming months, there are plenty more we look forward to visiting.
1. This summer Patrick Kriss’s Alo Group will launch their long-awaited project in the stunning new Ace Hotel. This includes two bars — one in the lobby and the other, larger one on the top floor. Then there’s the new Alo restaurant, Alder, which, at 80-odd seats, is the largest the group has launched by a factor of two, at least. There will be live-fire cooking — in a wood-fired oven as well as a grill. Expect much more olive oil than butter, whole fish and clean, bright flavours.
2. If you’ve wondered what happened to Jason Carter after he shuttered his much-missed, intimate, and overachieving Dandylion late last summer, you can relax. Carter and his gifted and engaging sommelier Susan Beckett will be back, and soon. While their premier new project, in the west end on Dupont near Symington, will not be launching until 2023, they will, in the meantime — this month or next — be opening something small and simple, to stay in shape. The two new west-end restaurants, as yet unnamed, will eventually co-exist.
3. Another Toronto restaurant we’re excited about is Miznon, the Tel Aviv–based purveyor of incomparably fluffy pita with inspired fillings, including the single-best spin on a hamburger since Daniel Boulud stuffed one with braised short rib and topped it with truffle. Miznon is opening soon in Yorkville — which, for convenience, beats the trek to NYC, to their second-nearest outpost in Chelsea Market.
5. Out west, chef Adam Pegg, who, at La Quercia, makes some of the very best pasta in the country, has recently realized a long-standing dream of owning a restaurant on the waterfront. Not in Vancouver this time,but at Halfmoon Bay, on the Sunshine Coast, where he’s taken over the venerable Upper Deck Cafe. It will soon be reborn as La Bettolina, with a kitchen helmed by La Quercia veteran Anthony Santi, with his wife Jennifer Bell managing the front of house. Expect lots of seafood, not just from the commercial fishermen who use the neighbouring dock, but also some of that exquisitely meaty fresh white sturgeon from Northern Divine Aquafarms, 20 minutes up the road.
6. And on the East Coast, we are keen to visit Portage in St. John’s, a project led by ex-Raymonds chef de cuisine Ross Larkin and his wife, ex-Raymonds pastry chef (and Best Pastry Chef 2019) Celeste Mah. The restaurant opens in June on Water Street, in the former site of the Luxus Hotel. Mah promises a “casual bistro” vibe with lots of sharing plates and dishes like scallop aguachile with sea buckthorn juice, snow crab dumplings, savoury cannoli and moose donairs.